Move over Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, there’s another couple with a connection to Cincinnati (Kelce was a Bearcat for those unaware) to talk about. Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted that the Reds and Joey Votto appear to be “on their way to a breakup” in his latest piece.

Nightengale notes that the team has no interest in picking up his option for the 2024 season at $20,000,000. No one is surprised by that. We’ve all known that wasn’t happening a while ago. But he also notes that Votto has shown little interest in a part-time role. With a young infield that already doesn’t have enough spots for Jonathan India, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Noelvi Marte – Joey Votto just adds to a situation of trying to find playing time for everyone.

There were times in 2023 when Joey Votto was healthy but wasn’t playing. He would sit against some left-handed pitchers. During the final series of the year David Bell opted to start left-handed hitting Nick Martini over Votto twice. The role Votto played was smaller than ever before.

While there was no real commitment from Votto on whether he wanted to return for 2024 following the final game of the regular season, it didn’t take long for him to make that decision. Five days later he was on the Dan Patrick Show and stated he wanted to return for the 2024 season. And while he said he’d prefer to return to the Reds, if they didn’t want to bring him back that he was open to seeking an opportunity to play somewhere else.

Cincinnati not picking up Joey Votto’s option probably isn’t the biggest hurdle for the two sides to overcome. Declining the option doesn’t mean that the two couldn’t come to an agreement for a new deal for 2024. But not being able to provide more playing time than it seems the organization is willing to give him certainly could be a big factor. Votto wants a chance to play often. That’s a tough sell for the Reds given all of the young players that they are already going to struggle to play every day in 2024.

166 Responses

  1. Sandman

    I don’t want to see Votto in another uniform and I wish he’d either retire or accept a reduced role on the Reds but, each side has to do what’s best for them because it’s a business first and foremost (unfortunately).

    • Alex Reds

      Joey Votto should definitely stay with the Reds.
      Nobody can guarantee Joey Votto playing time. It will be a performance competition wherever he goes.
      If he plays very well, he will start in Cincy.
      No reason for him to go elsewhere.
      Reds should pay competitively, and match or beat any offer.
      It would be an absolute shame if Joey Votto plays next year with any team but the Reds.
      Not worth arguing over a small amount of millions, this is a Reds legend and future hall of famer. This could impact how he is perceived and how much he is around the Reds after he retires. Bring him back.

      • James

        I like Votto but IMO his contract overall was a bust. Had is best years before he signed the big contract and has been hurt alot. He was a great exciting young player but the older he got the more average he looked.

      • Harold

        He is not worth 20milligon dollars I’ve been a fan cents the 70

      • Vic

        The Reds should let Joey be the one to decide whether he stays or goes. They will surely make a reasonable offer for him to stay, but they cannot, nor should they guarantee him playing time. In fact, it should be made clear that he will likely platoon at best unless he should miraculously reclaim his MVP form. Chance are the Reds will offer no more than $10 million since they are already on the hook for $7 mill whether he stays or goes. Considering that, he will most likely choose to leave as another team will probably offer more than the $3 mil the Reds might be willing to extend above the guaranteed $7 million he will be due from buyout. Even if he does leave and should the Reds make the playoffs next year, there is always the chance he could be a late season acquisition for the playoff run.

      • doofus

        What has Joey Votto done to make him a Reds legend?

      • Doug Gray

        This can’t be a serious question

    • Chopper

      I hope and pray that they don’t get rid of one of the best baseball players they ever had he should always be a model for the reds after playing ball he should be a coach of some kind for the redschopper

      • Mike

        i completely agree with you Vic. yes he had some bad years but didn’t a few years ago he hit almost 40 home runs over 100 RBIs . hall of famer . reds win that series against the giants like they should have votto might have a world series ring. respect the man redleg nation.

      • Tom

        You have two players, both hit about the same number of home runs. One draws over 400 walks more than the other, the other knocked in 508 more runs than the first. Which one do you want to pay to hit in the 3 or 4 spot on your team, and why?

      • greenmtred

        RBIs are in large part a function of how many men are on base when a hitter is at bat. A team with a lower overall OBP will provide fewer opportunities to drive in runs, so RBI totals are not, by themselves, a good test of excellence. In your example, the guy with more walks would have provided 400 more RBI chances for the hitter following him than would the guy with the higher RBI total.

    • Patricia

      I agree! Keep him they all respect him and play a game great together.

  2. Melvin

    Votto’s best chance of playing a lot is to stay with the Reds and DO WELL. If he does that everything will take care of itself. He can’t expect to be an every day player at this point without earning it.

  3. Ozzie

    It’s hard to imagine another team promising a season full of consistent playing time for Votto, especially with his inconsistency this past year and the uncertainty if it was solely an issue of shoulder health or age.

    If he doesn’t get an offer from another team it will be interesting to see if accepts a smaller roll with the Reds.

    • Doug Gray

      No one is going to promise a full season of playing time. But I’d bet someone out there’s got an offer of “we’ll let you start from day one and see how it plays out” and that’s something that Cincinnati probably isn’t remotely considering.

      • SR

        Agree there are teams out there who would take a flyer, but the one thing Joey doesn’t have is a ring. I don’t see him toiling for yet another team fighting not to lose 100 games. He is jazzed by the energy this Reds team generates. I don’t think playing everyday for the Athletics, for instance, is his desired destiny either. Might be a team that needs a lefty DH which would up his ABs if he produces. I confess I don’t know the landscape of team needs out there.

      • David

        I actually bet….not.

        One “likely” team would be the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto being Joey Votto’s home town.
        Toronto is a contending team (as they view themselves as such) for 2024, and will likely not give Joey Votto a roster spot.
        Either he would sign with a contending team (unlikely) or sign with a non-contending team (would he do that?) . The money…$10-20 million (???) and a roster spot for a 40 year old first baseman/DH? With a damaged left shoulder?

      • JayTheRed

        I could see this from a mid-level or losing record team but not from a contender.

  4. Beaufort Red

    Shows Votto is still delusional enough to think he’s an everyday player. So what is it, the money, everyday player, play for a contender? I hope the Reds aren’t going to stop the development of future stars by giving at bats to an aging egomaniac. Even if he got a performance laden contract what does that say about his perceived production. Ain’t no contenders on the other end of the phone.

    • Doug Gray

      Interesting words here…. no one in the big leagues ever got there, or stayed there, thinking that they weren’t capable of playing at a high level. That’s not a Joey Votto thing, it’s an every professional athlete ever, thing.

      • old-school

        Very true. Johnny bench knew when to step aside. Votto has a grand total of 4 fWAR in his last 5 seasons and treat was all 2nd half of 2021. Hes 40 and coming off major shoulder surgery. Lifetime .294 hitter hit .203 last year. Lifetime OBP .409 and last year .314. Lifetime OPS .920. Last year .737. He’s one of the slowest base runners in baseball and a poor defensive first baseman. Yes. He gets to write his script on how his career ends. But, the Reds dont have to pay for it or read it either.

      • Mark

        No one…And few realize when age, health and/or declining skills keep them from playing at a high level. He has been a great player and payed very well through the years. He is, at best, a role player and to think otherwise is not being objective. The team has Steer and possibly Stephenson as backup first basemen.

    • DaveCT

      “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

      It’s there is to know about Votto or any other great one.

      • JayTheRed

        Haven’t seen those words since the Movie Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield.

    • Tom

      The worst thing for Votto would be for the Reds having to cut him loose after 30 days or so. I don’t think MLB rules allows him to be signed to a non-guarantee contract, so he walks with full pay for the season. Seven million should be enough for not playing.

  5. Optimist

    Seems more like clickbait than a real “story”. Melvin and Ozzie’s comments cover both sides of this.

    I expect him returning on a fair contract (3-5m) and 3 possible seasons – 1 – performs very well, 350-450 ABs; 2 – performs OK, but has lots of time on the IL, 150-200 ABs; 3 – performs poorly, IL time, retires mid-season.

    Doubtful that money is a factor for Joey, and doubtful he sees another team needing 500 ABs from him.

    • Doug Gray

      Clickbait must mean something different to you and I.

      Clickbait to me is a headline/photo that is not really related to what’s being shared but used to entice the person to click it.

      “You’ll never believe what’s next for Joey Votto!” would be clickbait.

      • Optimist

        Not your headline Doug – I didn’t click thru to the article and see the line is buried deep in the extra comments. Still, the point of Nightingale’s line – it’s just the same speculation we’ve been sharing for a few years here at RLN – what’s his role, does he want to go home, what about the option. I suppose it’s useful to the general fan as a reminder for the off season, but doesn’t seem anything new or breaking.

      • JB

        Optomist- but yet here you are commenting twice. If it’s click bait then move on.

  6. Old-school

    Christian Encarnacion Strand and Spencer Steer were overwhelmingly the 2 best first baseman this year. Its sad and pathetic that Votto thinks he deserves to play every day over those two.

    CES is the first baseman. Steer is a corner IF/DH/LH flex. Marte/McLain/Elly/ Fraley/Friedl/Benson are all better.

    Im a Reds fan first and its Kralls job to field a championship roster in 2024 and spend money to fill holes. Take the $13 million and fill some holes

    • SR

      I think JDV is one of the best players to ever play for the Reds. That said, this legacy does not provide him the leverage to dictate terms and conditions about his playing time. This team had good attendance on the backs of exciting next generation players, not Votto. The Reds can’t be focused on winning next year in one breath and then make deals based on nostalgic recollections. Joey was paid well and revered by the fan base. His last 4 years have been below average except for the second half of 2021 when he found lightning in a bottle. His first half then was also awful too.
      Votto, like many great athletes in the twilight of their career is simply not being honest with himself. If he wants to end his career and be a Max Muncy hitting .198 with 30 HR’s, then he needs to do that someplace else. Watching him be a shadow of his former self waving at offspeed junk and unable to catch up to high heat is painful. He is now the definition of a guess hitter who sometimes connects on mistakes. I would rather watch our young guys learning to adjust and adapt rather than have Votto prolonging the maturing process by stealing AB’s.

    • Votto4life

      “ Take the $13 million and fill some holes”

      RLN plans. Phil Castellini laughs.

      • Old-school

        Reds wont ever sign hunter greene

        He will be traded


      • Votto4life

        Great they bought out Hunter Greene’s arbitration years. It isn’t proof the Castellinis are committed to winning. Whether or not Greene makes it through this contract without being traded, we will have to wait and see.

        Honestly, I think you are just trying to convince yourself.

        A few weeks ago, you posted that there is no reason why the Reds 2024 payroll shouldn’t be between $100,000,000 and $120,000,000. I am curious if you still believe that? Because we are about to find out just how committed the Castellinis are to winning.

      • old-school

        Yes- I expect north of $100 mil and plans for 120-140 in the next few years. Gotta be prudent spending though with targeted extensions and value added FA or higher salary arbitration guys through trades. None of us want the 2024 version of Mike Minor though just to say payroll went up.

      • Votto4life

        “A few more years”. lol the goal post seems to keep moving. I do agree with you about Mike Minor type contracts.

    • Mr. X

      You know its amazing, most Reds fans have been advocating for a smart rebuild and now that we have one we have to worry about Votto still? Votto’s contract did nothing but stagnate this organization. Yeah he had sone productive years, but the Reds went nowhere with him and the past 5 years hes been a declining player. Can we move on already.. I hope so. Personally, Reds fans need to worry more about Hunter Greene since he hasn’t shown hes capable of being an elite pitcher while he is going to be paid as one with his new contract. Hes heen inconsistently mediocre.

      • Doug Gray

        On no planet is Greene being paid anything remotely close to an elite pitcher. Max Scherzer was paid $43.3M a year for the last two seasons and will get the same next season. Hunter Greene won’t be paid half of that for a single season of his contract.

    • Still a Red

      Just because Votto wants to play every day (which we don’t know for sure), I don’t think he thinks he deserves to play every day over CES and Steer (though I don’t know that for sure either). Little unfair, not knowing, to call him sad and pathetic. I think he is smart enough to know the situation….that the Reds won’t take the option, he will see what the FA market for him looks like, he will go where he thinks he can burnish his legacy that’s taken a hit the last two years, hopefully for a contender…as much as he would want a ring, I think he’d be more satisfied with assurance of getting into the Hall of Fame…if there are no such offers, he may then very well see if the Reds will take him in a diminished role (though that would eat up a roster spot), but I’d bet he’d retire. All of this seems reasonable.

      • Tom

        He’s been quoted as saying he wanted to play regularly. His being one of 26 on the day to day roster, he also is on the 40 man roster, thus exposing a minor league youngster to the draft that would be at least our 14th best prospect. We have this year rookies, now regulars, that were top 15 prospects a year or two ago.

  7. Michael Wilson

    IMHO, this season much of the Reds success was due to their running game and base to base offense. I think their running game was intimidating. Joey doesn’t fit into that scenario.

  8. West Larry

    Thank you for the 17 years of professional play on the field and excellent representation of the field. 12 or 13 of those years were great, and 4 or 5 of those years not so much. Was it injuries or age that caused those down years? I don’t think anyone knows for sure. probably a little of each. The reds really don’t have room on the roster for him, especially if he wants to play a lot. I hope that you retire and move on to your next career…as someone stated on the blog earlier-I can’t imagine another team offering him a significant role. If he finds such role, and I hate to see him in another uniform, then best of luck to him.

  9. Tom Reeves

    I’m supportive of Votto returning IF he’ll accept the role that’s best for the team. If not, then the Reds have to make the best decision for the team and that means moving on from Votto. I’m guessing it’s really up to Joey and I hope his loyalty to his teammates wins out.

    • Tom

      How about his loyalty during his productive years. He was distant and not fan loving. Now, during the last year or so, he is jovial, acts like he is 25 again, does play by play, gives autographs, baseballs to kids and interviews most anywhere. His agency people are trying to create a new persona for Joey, particularly for after his active baseball life. Who is the real Joey Votto?

      • Tom Reeves

        He’s a deeply awkward person. He might be a bit on the spectrum. I don’t think it’s so much that his agency is trying to rebrand him as much as he became more comfortable with himself.

        I was at a game during his peak years in Diamond seats. There was a teenage boy next to us across the aisle. We noticed him because he didn’t stand for the National Anthem. At the time my wife and I were ticked but it soon became apparent he was very special needs. Anyway, Votto was warming up and made his way over to us. Through the net, motioned for the mom to bring the boy down to the net. He was very discreet and didn’t want anyone to notice. As the mom got the boy positioned, I was able to snap a pic for them with Votto. The boy was ecstatic. Votto then went to the plate like nothing happens and laced a double up the middle. His agency didn’t make him do that and this is back when he was more awkward than Poindexter.

        One issue for Votto was that Marty couldn’t stand him but would never quite say why. I personally think Marty questioned things about Votto he couldn’t say out loud. He definitely didn’t like Votto’s public battle with depression after his dad died unexpectedly. But there was more to it. Marty definitely didn’t help Votto’s popularity in the city during his peak years.

        All that said, if Votto wants to accept a deal that is best for the Reds, that’s awesome and I’d love having him back. But if he wants a deal where he plays everyday, it’s going to be in a different uniform. It’s always great when what’s best for the player and what’s best for the club are aligned. Maybe it’s not aligned in this case.

  10. LDS

    He should just retire. Take the Elgin Baylor exit instead of the Muhammad Ali exit. Baylor retired 9 games into the season when it was clear that he wasn’t the force he once was. Ali stayed too long and lost 3 of his last 4 fights. Time always wins. Votto needs to come to grips with that.

    • Greg

      I agree LDS. It’s really painful to watch him now. And he is an attention seeker which makes it that much harder for him to retire. For him to even mention Taylor Swift name speaks volumes of his ego. Just stop already.

    • Tom

      Votto has to be gone. The Reds will surprise me if they are as active in the off-season as most expect. For instance, go through the pitching staff and pick out 13 pitchers if all are healthy. Then tell which ones you would give up for a free agent or two. Then move de la Cruz to the outfield and tell me why we need a new right-handed outfielder. I don’t know of a single non/Reds pitcher who is a guarantee to pitch better in our small park than where he currently resides.

  11. redfanorbust

    Not much left to say that has not already been said by many of the posters on this and other sites. JV was loved by most Reds fans and paid well for his services for many years. He owes us nothing. We owe him nothing but respect and best wishes. Reds are deep into rebuild with young talented players who need all the AB’s they can get. We need all the dollars for FA’s that can truly move the needle forward. Joey, the players, fans, management and ownership all know this. If another team wants his particular skill sets at this point in his career, then great. It’s not out of the realm that he is resigned, just seems to make little to no sense at any price point.

  12. Rick

    It’s time for all parties to move on.
    Every Reds fan loved the younger regular season productive version of JoeyVotto.
    There’s a new chapter of young talented Redleg players that deserve the AB’s.
    Joey must remember his early chance of PT came by way of replacing Scott Hatteberg. Even Hatteberg was vastly better than a .203 hitter. It’s CES time to play everyday now.
    All once good things do come to an end, bb playing careers aren’t exempt either.

  13. Greg Fedele

    They should consider a coaching role and possibly into a managers role. That way he could stay a Red. Not at that dollar amount, but I’m not sure any team will pay that

  14. Redsvol

    time to start planning for free agency. We need a right handed outfielder who doesn’t disappear against lefties and plays decent in the field. Here are some names I’m keeping an eye on and their expected contracts;
    – Lourdes Guierriel- Diamondbacks – 5 yrs, 75M$
    – Toescar Hernandez – Mariners – 5 yrs, 110M$
    – Adam Duvall – Redsox – 2 years, 28M$
    – Randal Grichuk – Rockies/Angels – 1 yr, 5M$
    – Robbie Grossman – Rangers – 1yr, 3M$

    Last 2 are right handed platoon players if that is what we’re stuck with. The best will get paid. We have room to add salary, if we will.

    • Mario

      Saving this post. Definitely something to keep an eye on. Appreciate your research. I am not sure I would want to be the GM right now.

      Here are some other comments from USA Today. Gagging thinking of Sonny Gray signing with the Cardinals. Other RLN posts mentioned Nola as a fit for the Reds.

      (last year) Nola was seeking an eight-year contract in excess of $200 million, while the Phillies were hoping to sign him to a four- or five-year deal. 

      – The St. Louis Cardinals will strongly pursue Minnesota Twins free agent Sonny Gray this winter.

      • Rick

        Nola, Snell, Gray, are being mentioned by some National Media people on the Cards target list. Their hoping to secure atleast one & preferably two of those three pitchers. I’m hoping that they get none of those guys but that won’t be the case. If they sign only one, I’d rather for it to be Gray.

  15. Seth

    I hope the reds bring him back it would be hard to see him in another uniform also he looks good in red?

  16. Zebach Radeem

    I certainly hope this is true. Votto is unnecessary. Now, make certain the keep India.

  17. Ron

    I can understand Joey wanting to play again. It’s his love for the game. I appreciate his desire to stay in Cincinnati, but the only way he should be in a Reds uniform next year is if he were signed to be the new hitting coach.

    • Doc4uk

      He would be an excellent hitting coach and eventually a manager but as has been said before he is well beyond his prime and the Reds have better alternatives without spending millions

      • jon

        His future is on TV somewhere!! MLB network or in someone’s booth.

  18. Beaufort Red

    Why does everyone thing Votto would be a good hitting coach? Just because you can hit doesn’t mean you can coach.
    Top 10 hitting teams and hitting coaches as of 10/15/23
    1. Atlanta Kevin Seitzer
    2. Texas Tim Hyders
    3. Tampa Chad Mottola
    4. Houston Alex Cintron
    5. Boston Luis Ortez
    6. Miami Brant Brown
    7. Philadelphia Kevin Long
    8. Los Angeles Robert Van Scoyoc
    9. Toronto Guillermo Martinez
    10. Baltimore Matt Borgsch
    None of the names are hardly prolific hitters, if major leaguers at all.

    • LDS

      I agree. Votto’s standing as a hitting coach was seriously diminished by his SO/swing for the fences approach the last couple of years

    • Rick

      It’s usually the guys that have to work, scrap, study, etc harder than anyone else that generally make the better coaching personnel. Naturally gifted people or one time stars & superstars usually aren’t ideal for those roles.
      I see former Red Mattola on your list.

      • SR

        Agree. Let’s remember too that Votto spent many years taking pitches millimeters off the plate rather than swinging at pitches he could reach and often likely converted to RBI’s. Given MLB umpiring skill set erosion in balls and strikes calling, this is not a sound approach these days for sure. And none of our guys are veteran enough to get the calls he often got on marginal pitches either.

      • Mario

        I almost thought that was Pete Rose’s old gambling buddy. Or was that guy named Tommy.

      • VaRedsFan

        @SR….That’s somewhat a fallacy.
        While Votto took those pitches millimeters off the plate, what people fail to acknowledge is all the pitches he took “in the strike zone” during an AB with RISP…preferring to walk instead of driving in the run, and leaving it up to the less-skilled hitter. I’m not just talking about painted corner strikes either.

      • greenmtred

        Wow. Votto declined to hit hit pitches with risp because he preferred to walk? Doesn’t it seem possible that he felt the pitches in question were not pitches he could drive? Not all strikes are hittable, and Votto drove in a fair number of runs over the course of his career.

      • VaRedsFan

        I think you stopped reading before the last sentence

      • Tom Reeves

        Votto still has both some of the best RISP and “clutch” batting stats in the history of the Reds. He destroys Tony Perez in both categories statistically. But because he walked instead of striking out on at-bats where he didn’t get pitches he thought he could drive, he gets bashed. The issue wasn’t Joey. The issue was that for too many seasons, he was the only major threat in the lineup.

      • VaRedsFan

        @Tom. I watched for years as he took 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 pitches down the middle….center cut fastballs, with RISP. Why do you assume he would have struck out on said pitches down the middle? He was the most skilled hitter on the team, but now you think he’s going to whiff on thigh high fastballs in the middle of the plate?
        It’s why he will be in the Hall of Very Good, instead of the HOF.

        Then again, they are letting the “very goods” now instead of the greats, so maybe he has a chance.

    • greenmtred

      I’m not surprised by the list: Great players haven’t often been good managers, either. I have no idea whether Votto would be a good hitting coach, but his modifying his approach certainly wouldn’t, by itself, disqualify him: He’s a student of hitting and, by all accounts very analytical. It seems likely that he concluded that his best chance to help the team was to be a power hitter. Age catches up to hitters much faster than it catches up to hitting coaches.

      • VaRedsFan

        The time to be a power hitter was during his prime…after he hit 37 HR’s in his MVP season. After he signed a contract to be paid to be such a player. He didn’t eclipse 30 HRs again until 2017….not coincidentally, he finished 2nd in MVP voting (and he was robbed of the trophy IMO).

        Then after the great 2017, he changed his approach (why?) again…He started the deep crouch, choked up, inside out, and check swing approach. This carried on for 1.5 – 2 yrs, until he ditched that late in 2019, and started to bang again. 2020-2021 saw great results again, before the injury took over.

      • greenmtred

        I’ve never tried to hit MLB pitches, but I’d guess that, depending upon the pitcher, there are multiple ways in which a strike could be difficult to hit effectively. I remember the inside-out swing and was puzzled, as I gather you were. But I think you may be drawing an unwarranted conclusion from your interesting observations. I don’t doubt that you could find alternative explanations for Votto’s actions, as can I, but this may be a case where speculation is fruitless. Based upon his accomplishments, I tend to give Votto the benefit of the doubt.

      • Tom Reeves

        His power years got impacted by the Reds missing his torn knee because they waited to get an MRI and then that knee led to significant damage in his quad. Hard to hit for power on one leg.

      • greenmtred

        I always suspected that the inside-out swing was an attempt to beat the shift. Since I wasn’t in the batter’s box when those center-cut 2-0 pitches were crossing the plate, I really can’t judge why he didn’t swing at them. It’s possible that he simply froze up or was employing an ill-advised theory, but I’m pretty sure that he knows more about hitting than any of us, and certain that he knows more about his own hitting.

    • doofus

      Wasn’t Kevin Long the Red’s hitting coach a few years ago?

      • Melvin

        Big Klu was the hitting coach of the Big Red Machine if I’m not mistaken. Sometimes good hitters can teach it. Sometimes they can’t.

      • greenmtred

        I know that Klu was the Reds’ roving hitting instructor for a time, The Reds had a minor league affiliate in Burlington, Vt., and my recollection is that some of the guys who ended up on the ’90 team played there. Klu showed up to work with the hitters, and it made the sports news (and brou8ght back memories for me).

  19. jessecuster44

    If the Reds do “break up” with Votto and callously cut ties, that will be the icing on the cake of just how poorly the organization treated him. They never built a championship team around him(2012 was the closest), they let Marty B degrade him at every opportunity, and they never seemed to give him the respect that a player of his caliber merited.

    Joey Votto deserved far better than he got from Banana Bob and Co. I don’t understand how you treat a player revered by most fans so badly.

    • AMDG

      “callously” cut ties – LOL!!! 🙂

      Votto is a 0.240 hitter in the postseason with ZERO extra base hits in 47 plate appearances.

      Granted, he wasn’t alone in the postseason struggles, but to blame others for his lack of production is rather absurd.

    • greenmtred

      Jesse: it seems that you and I have inadvertently stumbled upon the Joey Votto Anti Fan Clubs’ minutes of their last meeting. I assume that refreshments were served, and my generous hope is that the punch wasn’t as sour as the members.

      • Mario

        Greenmtred agreed. All of the hate for such a great player. My father always seemed down on Griffey and Votto, the best 2 players on this team in the last 30 years. I know Griffey took less money to come here. Votto probably also would have done better on the open market.

      • Tom

        Votto suddenly changed in persona the last year or so and you suddenly think he’s mister nice guy. I think his agency people told him it was time to be a nice guy, to cuddle up with the other players, do interviews wherever and whenever, do more community work, even do play by play for the fans, give baseballs away and to pan for the tv cameras whenever possible. You know, those public things not seen during his heydays of baseball. He, with the help of his agency people, knows he needed to change his public persona if he indeed wanted a public future beyond baseball. Let’s wait and see if he isn’t a bunch more personable going forward doing things beyond hitting a baseball.

      • jessecuster44

        All these folks deserve to be shipped out of Cincy and to a town where baseball doesn’t exist.

      • Mario

        Tom, not sure who called Votto Mr Nice Guy. The guy is very popular among fans simply by being a borderline Hall of Fame player for the team for the past 16 years. He has lightened up considerably in the last several years. Someone pointed out that is probably a deliberate attempt to make himself a 2nd career. He’s a smart guy and I’d say the attempt has been successful.

    • Hanawi

      Agree but that’s not popular here. Many agree with Marty. Reds fanbase never appreciated Votto

      • Mario

        I don’t believe for a second that Marty is a Joey Votto hater. He said what a lot of fans were thinking. I never bought into that train of thought. JV is one of the all time greats at simply getting on base. I’ve always preferred to have guys with a high batting avg and on base % than guys who go all out for homers.

  20. Rob

    I may get slammed for writing this, but as a Reds fan for well over 50 years, I am tired — REALLY TIRED — of Joey Votto.

    Yes — great player, great Red, great guy. Credit to the game of baseball. Potential hall of famer. But in my mind, an unfortunate symbol of the mostly horrible, losing seasons of Reds baseball over the last 15 years.

    Furthermore, during those years, as the Reds plodded through yet another 90-plus-loss season, there would always be the Joey Votto sub-plot: Why is he choking up on the bat? Has he changed his swing? Is he trying to walk? Is he trying to hit home runs? Is he hurt? Is he not hurt? Will he be the same Joey Votto when he returns? Is he declining? On and on and on.

    Here we are after a season filled with hope for the future due to a promising group of young players, and what are people focused on? Yes, Joey Votto. Why should we be hung up on this?

    He is a now a 40-year old .200 hitter. Every game he plays at first base delays the development of Encarnacion-Strand. Every day he’s on the roster delays a young player from moving up.

    If he’s a positive influence on young players, then make him a coach, or at a minimum, a spring training or minor league instructor. Otherwise, the Reds should simply say, “Thank you, Joey, for everything. We wish you well in the next chapter of your career and your life.”

    • Rick

      His golf cart image of his return was not good optics for me as a fan. Wearing a bb jersey would’ve been a better look signaling I’m back and ready to go to work with my teammates.
      The young guys were impressing us with their energy, talent and enthusiasm. And, to this old fan the youth movement made it apparently clear that this was their time and their team, present & future.
      All of that to say it has to be about the youth movement and a few productive veterans that aren’t mendoza level hitters, nor defensive liabilities.

    • docproc

      Late to seeing this but couldn’t agree more.

    • LT

      Double bravo. One can only hope, does not matter how dangerous hope is, that this is not fake news, that the break up is going to happen. Every time I hear the name Votto, my love for the Reds just goes out the window for a moment.

    • Tar Heel Red

      Rob< agree with you 100%. I have commented on Votto as various times on this and other websites, only to be ridiculed and scorned.

      Votto was a very good player in his prime who could have been much more. But he chose (selfishly in my eyes) to pad his own stats…i.e. base on balls…instead of potentially driving in runs with runners on base.

      People often refer to his leadership abilities, but if you listen to several former teammates (Brandon Phillips, Nick Castellanos, etc…) this is not the case. According to them, and others, he has the reputation of being aloof, standoffish and moody. I have personally witnessed this as he and Scooter Gennett would be screaming at each other while on the field during the game. Now with the crowd noise I could not hear what was being said, but it was clear that the two did not get along and disliked each other.

      But the biggest reason I changed from a fan of Votto's to someone who wished his time with the team would end was a pre-game interview he gave the day he earned his 10/5 rights when he stated "they can't trade me now without my permission, so don't ask." And thereafter he repeatedly stated that he would never approve a trade to any team, including his home town Toronto Blue Jays.

      To me he is the epitome of today's selfish players who care much more about themselves than the team they play for. I say thank him for his years of service, let him walk and move on.

      • Pete

        Interesting opinion. I believe Ted Williams was seen much the same way in Boston. Highly regarded, respected but not necessarily beloved. On the other hand, you had Joe DiMaggio…..

        For me personally, in recent seasons, Joey has she shown a great deal of humility and kindness toward the fan base in recent years. I place a high premium on this and he is going to go down as one of my very favorite Reds. Not only as a player but as a personality.

      • Pharmer85

        Heard a stat once that for several years after his MVP season Votto took more pitches in the strike zone than he did the year before. Seems like taking a walk was the ultimate in his mind.

      • LT

        Amen. He’s no leader. In recent years, his bank account is full so he doled out some money to treat minor leaguers when he was in rehab assignment and somehow the media made him into a leader. He’s a me first guy 100%. And dont even mention his thirst for taking a walk and running over to first base like he jus won the WS. Drove me crazy. There’s no Cincinnati athlete that I despise more than Votto.

      • greenmtred

        So, LT, isn’t it possible that he’s mellowed since you were on the Reds?

  21. Harry Stoner

    While the team and Votto and RLN are all fumbling about how to conclude their relationship, my own thoughts are thinking back to 2016, when JV hit .408 after the ASB.

    I’ll let the rest of the debate roll on by for awhile.

    It’s only October.


    • Melvin

      I’m not convinced yet that Votto has “lost it”. It could very well be health that has been holding him back. It’s to the point though that he has to prove it. Nothing given.

  22. Doc

    Worst case scenario happened for Votto. He did not come back strong, early HR notwithstanding and the Reds youth movement got the city into playoff excitement. If Votto comes back, plays and plays poorly with another Mendoza line performance, and the team goes backwards, he will not like what he will hear from the fans, nor will the FO like what they will hear. It is time to move on from Votto.

    Had the Reds made a small step forward maybe it would have been feasible to bring him back and still move forward again, but the fans have high expectations going into 2024, and Votto should be enjoying it from somewhere, just not on the Reds roster.

  23. Roger S

    Joey does not deserve $20m this season. And he does not deserve playing time over CES and the other young players.

  24. Jim Walker

    I think there could be a role for Votto with the 2024 Reds. However, I can also see from both sides the reasons for Votto not returning. My hope is if he does not return at least the team and Votto can come to an agreement on a joint statement regarding his departure.

    • CFD3000

      Agree Jim, and I hope they both keep the door open for a Votto return down the road in a non-playing capacity. He has too much to offer, has too strong a connection with the fans and the city, to spoil a future relationship at the 11th hour.

    • Tom

      You have to end up with a 26 man roster as things now stand. Here’s what the Reds would have to do to give Votto ample time to prove he belongs in 2024. First, trade India, second, move de La Cruz to the outfield. Third, move Marte to shortstop, McClain to second, and Strand to third. It’s time to make Steer permanent in left. You keep Fraley to cover first if Votto fails or needs rest. Benson stays for cover in the outfield. Anyone else would be bench enforcements.

      • greenmtred

        That would be one way to do it, a drastic way, but a way. Another would be to use him selectively as a pinch hitter, dh, and back-up to Strand at first base.

  25. CFD3000

    I have no problem with the notion that Joey Votto should not be gifted a starting spot, or any number of at bats in 2024. He absolutely needs to earn any playing time. But when has he ever said he “deserves” to play every day next year? The Reds and Votto will make a mutually beneficial decision. If he ends up in another uniform I’m fine with that. And if he plays for Cincinnati I’m fine with that too. But let’s not warp reality here in support of whatever narrative matches your view of Votto. He may want to play every day, but I guarantee you he knows that only happens if he plays well. He knew that and said so in 2023, and he’s said nothing different in 2024. Let’s see how things work out with his health, productivity and playing time, with the Reds or another team. Thank you Doug for keeping RLN as civil as the internet can be. That’s my two cents.

  26. AMDG

    Not many teams are going to be interested is paying for an injury-prone, declining DH/1B with a sub-0.700 OPS.

    Over the past 5 seasons he is averaging less than 1.0 WAR per season.

  27. Red Fax

    Those fans who want the team to keep Joey ignore the crowd of infield talent, with batting averages far above Joey’s .202, he would partially displace.

  28. TR

    At the age of 40 plus his recent medical history, I do not want to see Joey Votto occupy a roster spot on the 2024 young, emerging Reds team. Nor do I want to see Joey hitting .200 or less which might lower his HOF credentials. Votto is at a decision point and he has many options ahead other than as a player.

  29. David K

    Joey Votto brings SO MUCH MORE to the Reds organization than his option contract is worth. Just his name on sold Jerseys and T-shirts pay an HUGE sum, not to mention butts in seats. He IS a player people pay to come see live. While $20mm is too high, a negotiated sum should be easily agreed upon unless one side is pure insane.
    Both Joey AND the Reds organization benefit with him in a Reds uniform. IT’s that simple.

  30. J

    Votto no doubt a great player, at 40 his prime years are behind him, love to see him stay at a discounted salary and limited playing time. It’s a youth movement in Cincy now, he should have retired.

  31. Roger Garrett

    This never had to happen if both sides and maybe they did would have set down and talked.Joey is not going to accept a part time role here or anywhere else IMO.He feels he can still play and unless another team is willing to give him 400 at bats so he can prove he has it or doesn’t have it this will not end well.Joey is a slow starter and he has done it his way for a long time and lets be honest the Reds had nobody until they acquired Steer and CES to even challenge him at first so they lived with whatever Joey did at the plate.Won’t work for the Reds now and I doubt if another team will just give him a job and let him play everyday regardless of his performance but they may.Again this will not end well for either party.Sad but well it is what it is.

    • Mark A Verticchio

      I don’t understand why you say it will end badly for the Reds. The fact is the team has a lot of young players and it is time to move on from Votto. He was a great player at one time but, as with everybody, his time as a productive baseball player has come to an end. Every at bat Votto would take is stealing a more productive at bat from a younger player. This doesn’t have to be ugly Joey just needs to admit, like all players, his time has passed. He should take the buy out and move on, best for everybody. If he wants to try and sign with somebody else that is fine. I wish him well, but add good luck. I can’t imagine who would sign a 40 year old .200 hitter accept as some sort of side show.

      • Beaufort Red

        This is a weird thought. Unfortunately every subpar season Votyo had lessens his chance for the HOF. But maybe he plays one more year because he doesn’t want to become eligible the same year as Cabrera. That choice a no brainer. Ok give me the business.

      • Roger Garrett

        Should have been more clearer but my point was from a PR standpoint the Reds will end up looking bad.I agree with all your points 100% but Joey said he wanted to play and well the Reds haven’t responded.

  32. larry baker

    I have always been a Reds fans. Never got caught up in the favorite player type deal. Seen players come and go. Mostly we like players who were winners. Have a special place for the Big Red Machine players, Some great players like Joe Morgan. Votto time with the Reds is almost over. Not sure they can agree on money and playing time. Reds have many younger players ready to step up. Ready to develop into a playoff team. Who knows, maybe they have the base for a championship team. The focus should be on finding ways to make the playoffs in 2024. Votto doesn’t really fit. Not sure Votto at his current skill level can put the Reds over the top. Money used to resign Votto could be used on more players needs for winning. The Reds have players who can replace Votto. Votto needs to sign with a new team that needs his playing skills today. Not sure if there would be a large market for Votto. That should tell you something. It’s not like Votto was a member of many championship teams here. Votto was more like a numbers player. No warm feelings from winning championships. Votto got paid good for his years with the Reds. Don’t believe the Reds need to be paying more money out to Votto now. Time for both parties to move on. The Reds can focus on winning. Votto can look for a new team that has potential for winning and playing time. A win for all.

  33. Laredo Slider

    Reds catered to Votto in ’23 and it likely cost them a playoff spot. Getting ejected the last game of the season in STL was BS.

    • greenmtred

      I watched the end of the season, too, and concluded that the disintegration of the starting rotation was what cost them the playoff spot.

      • VaRedsFan

        I doubt you can pin it on one factor.
        Yes, the pitching wore out at the end, but the bats went silent as well from the ASB forward. There were many well pitched games that the team lost.

      • Tom Reeves

        That and an exhausted bullpen (which was beget from other starting pitching woes).

        I think the Reds need to sign 1-2 ACE starting pitchers and 2-4 closer quality relief pitchers. They’ll provably need to spend close to $100m or more to those six assets. If Votto costs the Reds more than $5m in payroll, I think it’s a pass in favor of pitching.

        This team can win with top notch pitching.

  34. JY

    There’s no reason why Votto couldn’t be the everyday 1B at full health. If his health continues to improve he has as much upside as any young bat on the roster for ‘24 or any player they bring in. In a season where the team is fully expected to contend, coupled with the value he brings in ticket sales, merch, media attention, etc., I think it’s malpractice to let him go.

    C- Stephenson
    1B- Votto
    2B- McClain
    3B- Marte
    SS- De La Cruz
    LF- Steer
    CF- Friedl
    RF- Fraley
    DH- India

    With this team’s versatility, factoring in injuries, underperformance, and all other unknowns, there will be more than enough ABs for everyone.

    • CFD3000

      I agree JY. He absolutely could be a difference maker. The key is of course “at full health”. But as long as he understands (and I think he does) that playing time will depend on his productivity, why wouldn’t the Reds try to negotiate an incentive laden deal to bring him back. And why wouldn’t he agree to that? The “he should definitely retire” crowd are missing the low cost, high upside potential. I think it all comes down to his health. I think it would be shortsighted to write him off already. But we’ll see…

      • Tom

        How can he sign an incentive laden contract if he is a bench player. In effect, his argument would be, you have to play me for me to hit incentives. I don’t buy the “health” issue. If that was his problem the last two years, why did he play? Do you think the Reds would have made him play hurt. When a player has a problem with, see ball, hit ball, I’d rather think his reflexes have slipped a bit, especially at 40-41 years of age. Pitching in general continues to get better at the MLB level in regards to 100 mph no longer being a phenomena. One could say others strike out also and that’s true, but when the exit velocity, on contact, is down in the middle 80’s, there’s a problem beyond health. If you give him a chance, won’t we have the same argument next spring training, or in May or June, if he doesn’t perform? I’ve heard the, “Votto is a slow starter” excuse as well. Meantime, who is it you want to bench when Votto plays?

      • greenmtred

        You “don’t buy” the health issue? So the off-season surgery for shoulder and torn bicep is fake news? The Reds wouldn’t have made him play hurt, but he and many other players do. It’s probably ill-advised in some cases, but it’s common practice. MLB players are competitive people.

  35. Redgoggles

    I love JV and would welcome him back in a limited role (if he agrees to it), but this decision for me is a litmus test on the front office; in the past, Bob would make emotional decisions that would trump/hinder the baseball folks.

    I want the baseball folks making the decisions, and if they work something out with JV, then let’s go. If not, it’s time to turn the page.

    The team owes him nothing. Just like he owes the team nothing. It’s a business decision. Sign/pay him for his expected 2024 role/results, not his Reds HOF credentials.

    • BK

      Well said. It’s a simple decision: if Votto’s open to a limited role and a reasonable contract, then sign him. I could see him making an excellent bench player on the current roster. If not, I wish him well and am thankful for all he did for the Reds–he’s brought a ton of value and been well compensated for his services.

      • VaRedsFan

        Well then you’d have to bring Bell into the conversation, and we all know how he treats sub-peforming veterans. I’ve listed the examples here too many times.

  36. JayTheRed

    If Joey wants to play every day, it won’t be on this team even if he is signed with that intention. Bell does not let that happen. With all of the infielders we already have who are better players now than Joey is, it’s time to let the past move on. Thanks for a great overall career in Cincy, but it’s over most likely.

      • Tom

        You have to trade India to make room to juggle the infield around. If you alternate Votto and Strand, Votto will play more than Strand, they’re being more righty starters than lefties. You could move de La Cruz to the outfield permanently, moving Strand to third. How many, including the front office, wants to do all of that to make room for Votto to play somewhat regularly? How do you patch it back up if Votto is stuck on the.200’s come May.

  37. Brennan

    I seem to be the only one that thinks this but I expect a healthy Votto to hit 35+ home runs next year and play great 1B defense so a regular 1B/DH role should absolutely be his to lose.

    If everyone else stays healthy and plays to their potential then maybe that becomes really hard to do, but I’d say odds are that won’t happen.

    I’m not even saying this because I just can’t imagine Votto in another uniform. I frankly don’t really care about that. I just legitimately believe if he’s healthy he could be a big help to this team.

    • Tar Heel Red

      Brennan< Votto is, plain and simple, no longer capable of what you project him. And he has never been even a good defensive 1B, much less great.

      • Brennan

        He has a Gold Glove so he has been great at least once (granted it was 10+ years ago)

        He hit 36 home runs just 2 years ago so I don’t think it’s crazy to believe he could do it again. Actually, I think it’s crazier to be 100% sure he can’t.

      • Beaufort Red

        And Brennan if he stinks are the Reds gonna cut bait and DFA him? Talk about hitting rock bottom.

      • AMDG

        Equating Gold Gloves to defensive ability is pretty funny 🙂

        Unfortunately Gold Gloves are often awarded on popularity & offensive ability.

        For what it’s worth, Votto had a negative dWAR in his Gold Glove season.

        Also, he has only hit 30 HR’s 3x in his career. So that would seem to be the exception, and not the rule. Granted, he is more of a swing & miss power hitter these days, than he was back when he was a great hitter. But 35 HR’s seems a bit of a stretch.

    • Melvin

      That would be cool. He’d just have to prove it.

  38. Hanawi

    Hope Votto goes to a fanbase that actually appreciates him. Too many Reds fans stuck in the 70s in their evaluations of a players value

    • Tom Reeves

      I appreciate Votto. A lot of folks do. But there are some who act like the scouts in the movie Moneyball.

      • Tom

        I see where you wanted to sign two starting pitchers and up to 4 relievers. Would you pick out the Reds pitchers you would send back to the minors or simply jettison. Also, put some names down you would acquire and what money or assets you think it would take to acquire them. Just wondering how difficult that’s going to be.

  39. Old Big Ed

    Well, no contending team (including the Reds) needs or has room for a full-time Joey Votto. Contending teams almost by definition have better options at 1B/DH.

    Votto doesn’t want to play a hang-on season for a non-contender like the Royals or White Sox.

    So, his options are limited, as is his bargaining power. My guess is that the Reds will offer him maybe $3 million in the role of getting maybe 260 PAs, mostly avoiding power pitchers and nastier LH pitchers.

    I think this story is Nightingale hearing that the Reds would not pick up Votto’s option, which everyone in Cincinnati already knew.

  40. old-school

    The first big decision in the off-season is joey votto.

    Like to see RLN opinions on options. Reds are paying $7 million either way so the next decision tree becomes how much do the Reds pay after that and what is his role? Obviously role means Spring training and Opening day and May not august 1. Love to see a poll for RLN votes.

    A. Votto option is picked up at $20 million and he is every day 1b/DH

    B. Votto option is declined but he is mostly every day 1b/DH and paid really well ~10 million.

    C. Votto option is declined and Reds reduce role and reduce salary significantly. Votto is back up 1b and part time DH and bench bat. Salary is $5 mil or less.

    D. Reds move on and pay his $7 million exit fee.

    I would vote C and if Votto is unwilling to accept then it is D.

    CES and Steer are a great future at 1b/dh +

    • Optimist

      I’ve long thought it is C, and it’s the Reds decision since they may decide they want the roster spot and opt for D. I’ll be very surprised if another team pays him more, somewhat surprised if he signs early with another team, and not surprised if there’s a delay into early next year and he then goes elsewhere or retires.

      Also think he returns, falters or just doesn’t play much, and retires before the ASG,

  41. Madguner

    My question is this have the Reds even offered a small role to Joey Votto? A buyout will cost the Reds 7 million Are the Reds willing to pay more than that as he probably wouldn’t get much more than that from another club. He would still be guaranteed the 7 million from the Reds even if he signs elsewhere. I doubt that the Reds are interested in Joey Votto at all. Sad to say.

  42. Steven Ross

    It looks like 1B Brandon Belt is one and done in Toronto. They could go with Spencer Horwitz but it seems like a natural fit to also have Votto. Home town boy returns for his final year. Reds move on. That’s my story.

  43. AMDG

    There seem to be 2 distinct crowds when it comes to Votto….

    Nostalgia crowd:
    He was once awesome. Therefore he deserves to be on the roster indefinitely. Just give him one more year (again) and he will revert back to when he was a great hitter.

    Reality crowd:
    He was once awesome. That ship sailed several years ago, and is getting farther away. It is time to move on.

    • Tom

      MLB is a business and playing the game is a business. It’s not like they’re kids and the coach has to play all his kids regardless of ability. Hard decisions have to be made in putting your best foot forward in MLB. Starting with the Big Red Machine, I can think of only one player, Johnny Bench who played his entire career with the Reds and was elected also to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Votto says he wants to play, at least, another year and he wants to play somewhat regularly. He should take his free-agency, find a deal where he’s guaranteed playing time and then see if the Reds are willing to match that.

      • Beaufort Red

        I think he’s gonna be sorely disappointed with his offers. It just so happens other teams are in the business of winning , not nostalgia.

      • TR

        The Reds have a real opportunity in the next five years or so to win, thanks in large part to the trades of Castillo and Mahle plus a rebuilt farm system. Nostalgia has it’s place but it cannot be central. The time to win is now.

    • BK

      My position is somewhat in between. I see little risk in Joey Votto being offered a limited role on the team. Moreover, based on his tenure with the franchise, he offers tremendous marketing value to the Reds–far more value than any other team. Everyone just needs to keep in mind he must produce or he must retire.

    • greenmtred

      I’m not sure who is in your nostalgia crowd, since your description doesn’t fit any comment I recall seeing. Mostly, the people who are in favor of the team considering bringing him back are talking about next season and in a limited role; a role he’d have to earn. Why should the decision be arbitrary?

      • Tom

        How does the debate change next year? As soon as this season ended, he’s all of a sudden healthy, but he’s always been known as a slow starter in spring training. If he fails, I can hear some of the arguments then as we do now, just different excuses and more time is needed. What player do we sit or trade to make room for “maybe”?

      • greenmtred

        If there even is a debate next year–he’d be a year older, after all–it would hinge on how well he played this coming season. Suppose he–improbably–hit really well in limited opportunities? Would you still feel that the Reds shouldn’t keep him?

  44. Daveyb

    I’m tired of reading the same retread articles. Votto has said nothing new, the organization has said nothing new. Print something when there’s something to print. IMHO votto should be back next year as a part time dh/1b and get his farewell tour.

  45. Mark Moore

    Interesting to see this discussion is still getting “chatter” here on RLN. I’m of the opinion that if Joey will accept a VERY limited role and a relatively low salary, he’ll play in 2024 as a Redleg and that will be that. Biggest problems with that scenario I see are that he’s taking a roster spot (not the biggest issue) and that HDTBell has a “toy to play with” and will play him far too often, especially in the field. Until the inevitable injury happens.

    Seems he wants to play more games than not. I can’t speak to his ability to fulfill that wish or not. And 2024 is only a paper dream at this point. I’m also not sure he wants the big “farewell tour” and certainly not in a different uniform.

    At least we have this forum to keep us busy. Heaven knows the playoff games don’t hold much interest for me, especially since the Snakes seem to have run out of gas.

    • Jim Walker

      All the teams seem to be in the same place now, going through the waiver and outright process with eligible guys for the most part then opting for free agency. I’d guess eligible guys not opting for FA probably have a tentative arrangement in place that for whatever reason cannot be formalized just yet.

      Free agency, trading, and option call season open with the last out of the World Series. That’s when things will start to become more defined.